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"Write something worth reading or do something worth writing" A blog by Amy Willis, a multimedia journalist based in London

Customers delighted as shop reopens

Mar 30 2009 By Amy Willis, South Wales Echo

A FASHION tycoon has reopened one of Cardiff’s designer dress stores, raising hopes the city’s arcades can survive the recession.

Robert de Keyser has rehired most of the original staff who worked at the Emma Somerset shop in Morgan Arcade, which closed four months ago. The new store will trade under the name of De Keyser after its owner, who worked with Victoria Beckham on her Rock and Republic jeans range.

The Emma Somerset shop had been based in the arcade for eight years until the previous owner went into receivership. It was just one of a number of designer shops in Morgan and Royal arcades, including the Woodies Emporium, which were forced to close at the end of last year.

The closures sparked fears about the future of Cardiff’s historic arcades.

Retailers in Morgan Arcade are now hoping the soon-to-be-completed St David’s 2 development will help draw in customers.

Wendy Roche, manager of the De Keyser store which opened on Saturday, said: “It was absolutely heartbreaking when we had to ring clients to say we were closing. Clients were coming in crying as they were our friends. It was very hard. It is going to be great to call them up and let them know we are back. They will be very pleased.

“We are still waiting for some brands to come in but over the next month we will have filled it up again. It will be our best range ever.”

Marilyn Watkins, 64, from Pontypridd and a fan of the Emma Somerset shop, said: “We grieved over the closure as other shops in the area just could not give us the service we wanted. It used to be more like a social club than a shop – Wendy the manager was great.

“It is absolutely wonderful that it has reopened. The amazing thing is that Mr De Keyser has retained previous staff who we love because they are just so friendly. The friendship we have with the staff, you just cannot get that anywhere else in Cardiff any more.”

Mr De Keyser is also the chairman for the Miss Great Britain beauty contest and the Rock and Republic Jean brand, which is sold in his new Cardiff store, has been worn by celebrities including Sienna Miller, Billie Piper, Claudia Schiffer and Elle Macpherson. Another one of his brands, Jovani, featured in Bond film Casino Royale.

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Filed under: Portfolio

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